If you've been reading my blog for very long you might have sensed a theme of self-empowerment, and an undercurrent of acceptance of what is, even if that's not what I'd wish. But, these things are hard. I know that there are a zillion and one article out there on how to accept yourself, how to be kind to yourself, and more. They give a few steps, and speak about how wonderful it will be to achieve this feat. Thing is, for some of us that have deep ingrained issues that stem from childhood, and mental illness this is not a challenge that can be worked on like a to-do list, crossing each item off in order on this neat notepad of emotional life skills. No. This is an ongoing challenge that requires constant dedication. For myself, I have to re-evaluate my inner talk, my outer talk, and my emotional state frequently, and then adjust accordingly.
For example, recently I was having a lot of work done on my house. This meant a trove of workers coming in and out for several days. I began to fret about what I was doing, how I was presenting myself. My anxiety shot up, and I worried what they were thinking of me. Negative phrases were flowing through my mind. I worried I looked lazy
, aloof, and terrible on the days I had no time to put makeup on. I worried about so many things. I began to slow down, and listen to my inner dialogue. Not change it as much as just honestly hear it. I was a little embarrassed to be thinking so many negative things about myself! I thought that I was past this! When did this sneak back in? The answer is, it never left. It's an anxious habit of mine to project my fears onto others when I'm in certain situations. It's likely never going to leave. This inner critic is probably never going to be banished away with a few weeks of therapy, and a good self-care routine. Maybe that works for some people, but it doesn't for me. My self-care routine *is* monitoring these thoughts, and navigating my anxiety in healthy ways. Candles and manicures are nice, but they aren't going to touch my depression, or self-depreciation if I can't temper these anxious thoughts from running the show up in my brain.
I also have to monitor what I am consuming, which I have talked about a lot here in this blog, as well. (see tags at the bottom, or to your left for more posts on these topics) I have to keep a careful watch on how I feel when I watch, read, and listen to certain medias. Sometimes I follow certain people, or companies on social media then realize that I am mistaking knowledge with sales speak. At first it feels like I'm learning something new. I'm getting motivated. Then I begin to realize that I feel down after watching that person's videos, or reading those articles. I feel inadequate. It's also embarrassing to admit, but I catch myself falling for their spiel. Maybe they don't mean to make me feel bad, but they usually are trying to sell me their product. In order to do that they must convince me that not only do they know what they're talking about, but that for a sum of money they can impart that wisdom onto me, so I can reap the benefits and be awesome, too. So, I have to watch what I take too seriously. There's a fine line in my world between learning a new way of living, or doing things and getting carried away. I'm a perfectionist, and an overachiever. Everything I do is to the Nth degree. There's no tempering that. It's an ingrained part of my personality, but what I can control is what influences I let myself get exposed to.
It's taken me 39 years to get to where I am. To like myself. To feel any compassion for myself. It's got to be a priority in my life to keep this valuable skill going. It's not a learn and then done sort of thing, unfortunately. It's a continual practice that I have to make part of my routine.
How about you? I'd love to hear your experiences with negative self thoughts, and how you deal with them.